New Delhi, July 26 (IBNS): Yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Friday joined the hunger strike campaign against corruption being organised by activists led by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, drawing crowds to the protest that has seen less than expected public interest so far.
Strong crowds as seen during last year’s campaign Hazare were not to be seen during the first two days of the current protest, signalling a waning appeal of the group.
The indefinite hunger strike in the national capital, to mount pressure on the embattled Congress-led coalition government to introduce a strong Lokpal Bill saw an attendance that, at its peak in the evening on Thursday, was estimated to be around 1,500 to 2,000.
While the third day did not begin significantly better, the scene changed as Ramdev and his followers arrived with a procession, drawing 3,000 new people that doubled the attendance at the protest.
Ramdev, who is planning a protest from August nine against black money,said, "We will support whoever fights against corruption. This fight is to protect the country."
"We will support whoever fights against corruption. This fight is to protect the country,” he added.
However Ramdev said that he did not approve of the personal attacks against the country’s political class, including new President Pranab Mukherjee, that was being made by some of the members of Team Anna.
"The President's office is a constitutional post. One should not criticise those who occupy constitutional posts. Even Anna Hazare agrees with this," he told reporters at Ramlila Maidan before leading his procession to Team Anna's protest at Jantar Mantar.
At the protest site, Ramdev took on Prime Minister Manmohan SIngh for his attack, saying, "India now needs an honest Prime Minister to bring change in the country...The role of the government is not to just bring economic prosperity but also to raise pride of the nation the world over.
"But instead our own Prime Minister is being branded as an underachiever. It is not a matter of joke but of shame," he said.
Meanwhile Hazare on Friday said he will think of joining politics if the people of the country wanted him to do it.
"If people say that Anna should enter politics, then I could think about it," Hazare said in an interview to a TV news channel
Hazare, however, said he would not contest elections but support a political party that would be launched by a person intending to fight against the problem of corruption.
The septuagenarian leader said he will give a 'political alternative' to the people of the country,
"I will not go into politics but I will give a political alternative to the people," Hazare said.
"I will not fight in elections. But if anyone fighting against corruption launches a political party, I will support it. I think the people are ready for an honest candidate," he said.
Hazare said: "The government too has been laggard in bringing in the Lokpal Bill. It has been two years since our protest for a strong Lokpal Bill began. May be the time has come to look at an alternative. But I still hope that the government will introduce it."
The anti-corruption law has been the core agenda of the group, nicknamed Team Anna, since last year when organised public fasts, galvanising middle class frustration against government inefficiencies and all-pervasive corruption.
However, the bill that has been stonewalled by reluctant lawmakers for nearly four decades that was finally introduced in the parliament last year, yet again could not be adopted as MPs disagreed on a number of clauses.
Launching a fresh campaign to force the government to enact the anti-graft law, Anna Hazare and his followers threatened to launch a “fill the jails” protest on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement if the Lokpal Bill is not introduced soon.
The activists have already levelled allegations against 15 Union Ministers and demanded a special team of retired Supreme Court judges be constituted to probe the charges.